On 28th May 2021, MATT McMANAMON will release his debut solo album: ‘Scally Folk’, via Fretsore Records.
Perhaps best known as the feral frontman one-time Deltasonic darlings: The Dead 60s, and later a touring member of The Specials; over 15 years since tracks like “Riot Radio” raided the charts and indie dancefloors across the nation, McManamon returns to music a reformed character with an altogether different outlook on life.
Entitled ‘Scally Folk’, McManamon makes no pretence about the kind of record his debut solo outing will be. Regional slang in his once-native North-west for a “a roguish self-assured young person, typically a man, who is boisterous, disruptive, or irresponsible”, McManamon’s first offering finds an artist poring over the pages of yesteryear and recontextualising them with a palette of sounds that make him the man he is today. Casting no illusion as to who the ‘Scally’ at the heart of this story may be, McManamon says:
“Every song on ‘Scally Folk’ tells a story about something I have experienced and is largely an autobiographical body of work. Musically, when every song is heard in its purist form, ie acoustic guitar and vocal (the way I wrote them) it’s actually a ‘Folk’ album albeit with undertones of pop thrown in for good measure, but it’s essentially Folk.”
While Dead 60s fans may detect faint traces of McManamon’s past in the staccato ska-esque rhythms that introduce the album’s opening number ‘Gaslighting’, the songs of ‘Scally Folk’ soon unfold to paint a much broader, widescreen picture befitting of its narrative.
“I was well aware that the songs would evolve into a grander sound once I was in the studio and undertaking the recording process” says McManamon, “but if truth be told I didn’t realise or expect just how powerful and big the songs would turn out to be, which of course was a great thrill and delight”.
Going back to his roots to examine the music that has embedded itself in his DNA, ‘Scally Folk’ finds McManamon exploring sounds perhaps once side-lined by the pursuits of his younger self and uncovering a new identity within them. With hints of classic Merseybeat on “What About You”, splashes of that distinctly Wirral kind of psychedelia on tracks like “Out of Time” or lead single “Jumpin The Gun”, to the jangling power-pop sounds immortalised by the likes of The La’s on “Every Time I Close My Eyes”; McManamon nods to the touchstones of Liverpool’s colourful musical history in warm appreciation for the city that made him. Elsewhere, tracks like “Liberty Shore” and “Mulranny Smile” find McManamon delving deeper into his own heritage and falling in love with some of the more traditional sounds associated with his current home in the West of Ireland.
Both streams of influence coalesce beautifully in the moving, “Meet Me By The River”; a song with distinctly traditional celtic arrangements and lyrics that pay misty-eyed tribute to the River Mersey which courses through the heart of Liverpool, flowing headlong towards the Irish sea. A song about missing the city after temporarily moving to London as a determined 23-year-old, McManamon says: “I wanted this song to almost be a love letter to Liverpool and highlight how I missed the place.”
Over the course of its 10 tracks, McManamon offers open and candid reflection on some of the definitive moments life has dealt him, and often with an unflinching honesty. “Gaslighting” sees McManamon talk frankly about suffering instances of sustained psychological & mental abuse, before “Jumpin’ The Gun” sees him exacting the sweetest form of revenge in a resounding track “about experiencing negative people & negative thoughts, and responding to them by doing something positive”. Recountings of flashes of personal anger and frustration (“What About You?”) and worries about the sands of time slipping beneath your feet (“Out of Time”), give way to sentimental reminiscence on the things that make life worth living like notions home (such as on the touching “Mulranny Smile”) and raising a family of your own (“Every Time I Close My Eyes”).
Told with the kind of wistful reflection that only hindsight can bring, McManamon teaches us the lessons life, love, loss and so much more have taught him; and perhaps best encapsulated on the tender ballad “Liberty Shore”. Written approximately 15 years ago shortly after the split of The Dead 60s, it transports the listener back to a fraught chapter in McManamon’s story, but one that would ultimately point him in towards his new solo direction.
““Liberty Shore” was one of the first song ideas I had shortly after the dissolution of ‘The Dead 60s’. It’s a bit of a bittersweet sentiment for me, I was living in London at the time in a rented flat with my then girlfriend, the relationship was breaking down and promises where being broken, I longed for a fresh start away from London and away from England, but she didn’t share the same enthusiasm for the notions I harboured. So we parted ways and I headed to my beloved Ireland and have never looked back.”
A song with an inherent feeling of closure and change, the track was one of the first songs McManamon penned solo and yet also one of the last to be recorded for what would become ‘Scally Folk’ in an album that finds an artist coming full circle.
Though its songs document a lifetime of experiences, ‘Scally Folk’ itself was recorded in just 14 days at the Transmission Rooms Recording Studio, Drumlish, Co Longford, Ireland. Assembling a talented backing band of musicians including Vinny Redmond (Angel Pier), Enda Mulloy (Biblecode Sundays), plus additional contributions from Andy Nolan (Biblecode Sundays), Kane O’Rourke (Nathan Carter, Derek Ryan) and John Murray (critically acclaimed American singer/songwriter), McManamon’s vision came into vivid focus. A special mention also goes to celebrated percussionist Mick Cronin (Shane MacGowan, Kodaline, Noel Hogan of The Cranberries), who alongside playing on the record also imparted his additional studio expertise to engineer and produce the record to its final form.
A record about the passing of time and finding your place within it, ‘Scally Folk’ unpicks the stitches of life’s rich tapestry and uses its threads to begin anew. A humbling work and the realisation of lifetime’s ambition, McManamon reflects of ‘Scally Folk’:
“I feel it has a lovely mix & balance of power-pop, celtic infused soul & folk and hopefully demonstrates my talent as a songwriter and storyteller. It is a departure from the kind of music I’ve been associated with in the past, but for me that’s precisely the point and what I aimed to do, I’ve always wanted to record a solo album for many years now, and now I finally have”
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MATT McMANAMON WILL RELEASE ‘SCALLY FOLK’ ON 28 MAY 2021, VIA FRETSORE RECORDS
Matt McManamon – ‘Scally Folk’ Tracklisting
What About You?
Out Of Time
Here Comes The Fear
Jumpin The Gun
Every Time I Close My Eyes
Meet Me By The River
I Ran Away
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Matt McManamon is the former vocalist and songwriter of The Dead 60s. Releasing their s/t debut in 2005, the band scored 5 UK top 40 hits and surpassed over 100k sales in the UK alone. During his tenure as frontman, McManamon toured with the likes of Morrissey, Kasabian, and Deltasonic label mates The Coral, appearing on stages from Glastonbury to Top of the Pops. Prior to launching his solo career, Matt also toured with The Specials as their live guitarist. Returning with his first music in nearly 15 years, Matt McManamon will release his debut solo album: ‘Scally Folk’ on 28th May 2021.